US negotiating oil contracts to store 23M barrels in Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Nine energy companies part of the negotiations

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Department said on Tuesday it is negotiating contracts with nine energy companies to store about 23 million barrels of domestically produced oil in the country's emergency crude reserve.

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The department initiated a plan to lease space to companies in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, or SPR, as a way to help companies suffering from the oil price plunge and after Congress failed to fund another plan to purchase oil for the facility.

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The department said most of the deliveries will be received in May and June with some possible shipments in April.

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(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)